Marketing Yourself as a Healthcare Professional
There are a growing number of healthcare professionals providing services directly to the public and this is of great benefit in terms of improving the health of the population as a whole, however, it also means that developing a healthcare business has never been quite so competitive as it is today.
Undoubtedly, it’s a challenge to promote your healthcare practice successfully, so that you don’t get lost in the crowd. Here are a few ideas to help healthcare practitioners make the most of some of the many new marketing opportunities now available.
Know the marketplace
The United States Department of Labor lists no less than 61 different job titles in the healthcare industry. The wide variety of roles starts with Athletic Trainers and Exercise Physiologists and ends with Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, so it is evident that healthcare today is a comprehensive field that looks after many different aspects of human and animal welfare. There are many very highly qualified professionals operating in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, laboratories, private practices and patients’ homes.
In addition to traditional visits to a doctor or nurse people are accessing healthcare knowledge differently these days. The growth of online information has been phenomenal, with medical websites routinely offering advice and even diagnoses for every conceivable illness or condition. Online pharmacies and clinics often make available the opportunity to ‘chat’ with a qualified physician, so that patients have access to expertise, and naturally, can convert the advice they receive into a sale for the supplier, either on the spot or at a later date, or both.
Branding and marketing
Direct mail campaigns, newspaper ads and posters on billboards are traditionally associated with marketing, however, healthcare professionals wishing to market their practice need to take a more holistic approach in today’s hi-tech world and make the best possible use of all opportunities. Marketing is about the public face of a practice – the impression it makes, how appealing it is and how much confidence customers and potential clients have in the healthcare service on offer. Appropriate branding helps to move an organization in a particular, desired direction according to the principal aims – retaining or growing the market share, increasing income or deterring new competitors, for example.
Website research and development
Particular medical professions are likely to have target groups and it is important to be aware of these when setting up in the healthcare industry and devising a marketing plan. For example, Personal Care Aides who help people with everyday tasks and self-care are likely to be employed by older people or families to care for an individual with a particular disability who needs extra assistance. The marketing they undertake should reflect this.
If developing a website, for example, it will be important to use appropriate images that will appeal and reassure. In the same way, making certain that text contains relevant keywords, such as ‘senior home care’, will improve search engine visibility. As a result people looking for specific healthcare services will be directed to the most appropriate sites, and new health professionals who have taken the trouble to develop an effective website will benefit. When it comes to communicating well, the personal touch can make all the difference and the practice of embedding a short, explanatory video in a website is growing in popularity.
Ads on social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, can reach a large number of people very quickly and for this reason pay per click (PPC) online advertising remains very cost-effective. It’s important to build and manage an online campaign carefully and expertly, especially for small and middle scale healthcare businesses that might otherwise struggle to compete with the larger marketing budgets of bigger healthcare providers.
In addition, developing an online persona that is effectively communicated via social media is essential these days from a brand management perspective. Social media has a high impact and as such is very valuable – as long as it is used correctly it will have a positive, beneficial influence.
Increasingly, people are accessing the internet on their cell phones so mobile web marketing is becoming more and more important – this means designing marketing material so as to optimize information for smartphone users. It also means considering the use of text message marketing, mobile app development and mobile advertising in order to ensure the marketing strategy for the healthcare practice is up to speed with current developments and client usage patterns.